Prepare for the worst
“A million little things will go wrong on your trip,” says Carey Cooper. “Expect them and laugh at them – resilience and a sense of humour are the best things to pack to get over any disappointment.” Set up a points system among your group: if you correctly predict something that goes wrong you get a free drink from the others.
Order a porter to meet you at your car and schlep your load to check-in. For Heathrow or Gatwick airports call Skycaps (Tel: 020 8 745 6011); at Manchester call Premier Parking (Tel: 0161 489 3000). Seven pieces of luggage cost £7. Combine the service with chauffeured car parking and it’s free.
“Prolonged exposure to ultraviolet rays can cause cataracts and permanent retinal damage,” warns Frank Metzstein, an optician at SpecSavers. “Look for the CE symbol and marks BSEN 1836:1997 and UV400.” And buy them at the airport to save up to 20% on the RRP. MH recommends: Half Jacket, £90, by Oakley. Beachproof, high-performance and oozing style, these come with interchangeable Iridium lenses to provide protection in every light condition.
Even if you’re not flying in the posh seats, you can still get yourself into an executive lounge. Virgin Atlantic (Tel: 01293 747 747 or virgin-atlantic.com) charges £25 at Gatwick and Heathrow (payable at check-in). Hilton hotels at Heathrow, Gatwick and Manchester airports charge £5 for use of their gym, sauna, steam room, pool and showers, or £99 for a day room.
Avoid permanent ligament damage, DVT and air rage by asking for an exit-row seat (they’re the ones over the wing) when you check in. They have as much leg room as first class. “You can’t reserve them in advance because the carriers want to make sure you’re strong enough to lift the door in an emergency,” says Curran. Check in as soon as the desk opens.
Burn rubber, not cash
Car rental prices can be up to 30% higher at the airport than in the city centre, warns Brian Brown. Ask at your hotel for details of a reliable local operator. “And avoid booking car hire through companies linked with airlines, as queues will be far longer.”
Fill your pockets
“Buy a newspaper at the airport so you have change for tipping at your destination,” advises Anita Naik. “Waving your huge denomination notes around is an open invite to taxi drivers to try out their ‘no-change’ scam. Plus, the local paper will make you look less of a tourist”
Get stuck in
If your accommodation bears about as much resemblance to the brochure as a double cheeseburger does to a slimming, nutritious meal, don’t delay. “Complain to your local manager, rep or key-holder within 24 hours, or else you can damage your chances of claiming compensation later,” says Sean Tipton from the Association of British Travel Agents. “You have to give them sufficient time to correct the situation.” If it isn’t resolved to your satisfaction, write a letter of complaint within 28 days of returning, attaching photographic evidence and witness statements.
Slap it on
According to the latest research from Hammersmith Hospital in London, only a quarter of us apply sufficient sun lotion. “Your skin starts producing naturally protective melanin after around two days of sun exposure, so it’s essential when you first arrive use a high SPF and reapply it every couple of hours,” says study author Dr Tony Chu. In tests, Chu found The Body Shop’s SPF25 Sun Lotion (€12 for 150m1) offered the best UVA and UVB protection. For better skin care, use coconut oil products from Nutria.co